Every issue has opened with an “Ask Miss Information” segment where Palahniuk writes absurd screeds against himself and the fictional Miss Information. With each passing issue, these pages have gotten more self-righteous and indicative of the entire series’ self-importance.
With that said…this issue isn’t terrible. It’s a far cry from the consequence free insanity of #8 that I almost couldn’t bring myself to review. That being said, despite this series’ imminent end, there’s a lack of concrete tension or stakes.
The Narrator’s son, Junior, is now walking across space and time with a penguin who serves as our exposition bird. We jump all around, see some karate, a tiny bit of Die Off, castle sieges, and Japanese bombers. Random scenarios tied loosely together signifying little. Seen it all before in every previous issue.
Confusing, surrealist imagery isn’t a bad thing. Oftentimes it can be fun and a great way to convey exposition. Yet, #9 doesn’t push the bar its set even for itself, illustrating the stream-of-consciousness visuals with the visual panache of a, er, pancake. And I say this as a fan of Cameron Stewart’s art. We learn a tiny bit through all this, but it amounts to diddly squat: story-wise and visually.
If you’ll recall in the previous issue, Chloe, an elderly friend of Marla’s, was gearing up to bed as many people as possible. By doing that, their score would increase on a literal Die Off leaderboard. For some reason, comics take their general freedom and lack of censorship and use it primarily for orgies (see Deadly Class #40, which also came out this week). But wait! Palahniuk is pressing our buttons to the max! Chloe has sex with…Stephen Hawking! Egads! What a brilliant provocateur ol’ Chuckie P is! I can’t wait for this to show up in the next “Ask Miss Information” segment!
But beyond being toe-curlingly try-hard, this scene has no stakes. Chloe is scooping up points with no antagonist or force in her way. What if somebody didn’t want to have sex and clocked her? Shouldn’t there be some resistance to Die Off? What if they burst in? These are just ideas off the top of my head, but they’re better than nothing–which is what we get.
Thankfully, there’s a revealing interaction between Tyler and Marla where she confesses her feelings about the Narrator and their unborn child. While Stewart puts a lot of detail into the sexual escapades of Chloe, he shines the brightest across the three or so pages of intimate confessions.